Monday, September 04, 2006
"He walked in peace through the midst of them." - Old translation of today's Gospel which now reads, "But he passed through the midst of them and went away."
Jesus was walking away from the angry townsfolk who were intent upon throwing him over a cliff at the edge of Nazareth. Someplace, in Paul I believe, scripture says,"Avoid anger in all of its forms." Another scripture cautions, "Calm your anger and forget your rage, it only leads to evil." It is good to recognize that and get to confession.
I confessed yesterday. I've been pretty angry of late and anger clouds one's judgement. Fr. Stromberg, one of the wisest priests I've ever known discussed obedience with me. I understood that we are safe when we are obedient and realize Christ has promised us to be with His Church until the end of the world - "the gates of hell will not prevail."
For the rest of the day I pondered what this means. I considered how the martyrs suffered, enduring patiently for the love of Christ all the difficulties of being a Christian in a pagan society. I recalled Lot, who suffered the corruption of Sodom, his faith fixed upon God. Before him there was Noah, who built the Ark amidst revilement and insult. Of course there was Job, whose own friends taunted him after he lost everything.
After the persecutions began to wane in the early Church, men and women went into the desert to embrace a sort of 'white martyrdom' patiently enduring fasts and vigils, along with temptations. This evolved into cenobitic monasticism. The concept of martyrdom always at the root of monastic spirituality. Patient endurance. "Fratrum frequentatio" - enduring with charity and patience the sins or faults of one's bretheren, even one's self. In the Gospel Our Lord tells us that by patient endurance we will save our souls. Monk or martyr, the Christian vocation was from the onset expected to reproduce in one's life the patient endurance of Christ. In both a willingness to die for the Lord, and in the resolute determination to live a life of faithful adherence to the Gospel, despite the sacrifice stemming from the taunts of others, their faults, and even their sins.
The sins and errors of others, coupled with our own transgressions - perhaps even more serious, can be a source of great moral suffering for the Christian. Remember Lot, who was scandalized by the Sodomites - he suffered these torments waiting upon God, sharing in the Divine suffering, "pati divina" the word from whence patience is derived. His patience was not simply 'for a time' but was ready to endure unto death; he and his family remaining faithful to God amidst flagrant indecency for as long as God willed.
The concept of patient, long-suffering endurance - enduring the various abuses in the Church, irregularities in the liturgy, as well as distorted translations of liturgical texts and scripture - accompanied by the confusion and misunderstanding generated by these things - often does add up to a sort of suffering for the person seeking to live a faithful Catholic life. Many of us can attest to that.
Rather than flee the situation, or worse yet, grow angrier and more rebellious, thus isolating myself in some secure refuge apart from the mainstream of the Church, I must remain where the Lord has placed me. What keeps me Catholic is my faith in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and fidelity to the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ, and the Bishops - with their fellow priests, in union with him. If I am mocked for my confidence, then so be it, "obedience is better than sacrifice." If I suffer for the faith, praise God, who I trust will supply me with the patience and endurance to persevere.
Confession is good for the soul. I'll bet if more people frequented the sacrament, we would have less dissension and anger in our midst - universal reconcilliation could take place.
"I have more understanding than all who teach me,
for your decrees are my meditation.
I have more discernment than the elders,
Because I observe your precepts.
From your ordinances I turn not away,
for you have instructed me." -Psalm 119 (Today's responsorial.)